In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) have ramped up efforts to subsidize the provision of the telecommunications and broadband services necessary to deliver telehealth solutions. This includes steps to make it easier for eligible health care providers to secure funding under the FCC’s existing Rural Healthcare (RHC) program,

On April 2, 2020, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) issued a Notification of Enforcement Discretion (the “Notification”) regarding the disclosure of protected health information (“PHI”) to public health authorities and use of PHI to perform analytics for such authorities.  Designed to “facilitate uses and disclosures for public health and health oversight activities during this nationwide public health emergency,” the Notification relaxes HHS’s enforcement of certain provisions of the Privacy Rule issued  under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”).  More specifically, the Notification announces that, under certain circumstances, HHS will not impose penalties for violations of such provisions against covered health care providers and their business associates for the use and disclosure of PHI “by business associates for public health and health oversight activities” in connection with the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency.
Continue Reading HHS Seeks to Facilitate Certain Uses and Disclosures of Health Data to Public Health and Health Oversight Agencies Amidst COVID-19 Nationwide Public Health Emergency

This month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) issued guidance waiving enforcement of certain provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”) in response to the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency.

Covered Health Care Providers

On March 17, 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights

Last week, Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced the Protecting Personal Health Data Act (S. 1842), which would provide new privacy and security rules from the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) for technologies that collect personal health data, such as wearable fitness trackers, social-media sites focused on health

Earlier this year, President Trump signed into law the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (BBA), which incorporates provisions from the Creating High-Quality Results and Outcomes Necessary to Improve Chronic (CHRONIC) Care Act of 2017 and improves access to telehealth services in Medicare Advantage. Pub. L. No. 115-123. Among other provisions impacting Medicare Advantage Organizations (MAOs), the BBA authorizes MAOs to offer additional telehealth benefits as basic benefits beyond original Medicare (Part A and Part B) limitations. Id. at Div. E., Title III, Subtitle C, § 50323.

Continue Reading Medicare Advantage Organizations Provided New Opportunities to Offer Telehealth Benefits

Today, as expected, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) adopted an order repealing the agency’s 2015 net neutrality rules and changing the legal framework that governs Internet Service Providers (“ISPs”). The vote split along party lines, with the agency’s three Republicans voting in favor and its two Democrats dissenting.

Once today’s order goes into effect,

Last week, Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Gary Peters (D-MI) introduced new legislation to test expanded Medicare coverage of telehealth services.  The Telehealth Innovation and Improvement Act requires the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to allow selected, eligible hospitals to offer telehealth services in cooperation with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation

In July of 2015 we noted that nine states had enacted laws to join the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact.  We described this cooperative program intended to allow physicians to obtain expedited licenses to practice in multiple states.  This would facilitate the delivery of telemedicine across state lines; physicians are generally prohibited from practicing, even

Although telemedicine has made many technological advancements in the past decade, it still faces several legal and financial barriers to widespread use and acceptance.  Chief among these are poor reimbursement policies; according to the American Telemedicine Association, 29 states earned an “F” for coverage and reimbursement standards.  States have attempted to rectify some of these payment barriers with state telehealth parity acts, which require that telehealth visits be reimbursed at the same rate as in-person visits.  On July 7th, Deleware became the 29th State to enact telehealth parity laws.

Congress is now considering a nation-wide telehealth parity act.  Representative Mike Thompson (D-CA) has sponsored the Medicare Telehealth Parity Act of 2015 in the House, along with co-sponsors Representatives Gregg Harper (R-MS), Diane Black (R-TN), and Peter Welch (D-VT).  The Act  is intended to modernize the way Medicare reimburses telehealth services and to expand coverage for Medicare beneficiaries.  
Continue Reading The Proposed Medicare Telehealth Parity Act of 2015 Would Expand Medicare Reimbursement for Telehealth Services